One Foot in the Door

Posted November 02, 2016

– Jeff Bruss, Publisher

I've viewed thousands of cars over the past four decades, okay, probably hundreds of thousands. Yes, I'm an addict. But my eyeballs have always had a tendency to float back to one automobile in particular... the Ford GT40. When I talk about the GT40 I feel like I have to say "the" Ford GT40 – like Ohio State grads have to say "'The' Ohio State University" when being introduced on Monday Night Football. It deserves a "the" when being addressed.

For the past day and a half I've been at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. An automotive mecca of the most exquisitely built custom automobiles in North America. From Ringbrothers to Ridler winners, they're all here. Yet one car has made my trip to Sin City unforgettable.

Hillbank Motor Corporation, an authorized Superformance dealer, has a tent set up near the outdoor Ford Drifting display with a lineup of Cobra roadsters and Coupes, Caterham Sevens, and one lonely Superformance GT40 in white with two blue stripes dividing the car in half running from hood to exhaust. There she is ladies and gentlemen – "The" Ohio State University.

A salesman named Doug approaches – surprisingly he doesn't blow me off like an overzealous 16 year-old, as I gawk and drool all over the albino GT40. Doug is wealth of knowledge on the car, and shows an obvious appreciation for all things automotive. Doug's smile is only slightly less broad than mine. We walk around the car while he rattles off specifications and history, pausing to show off the engine, which only heightens my GT anxiety when I see the power plant – complete with the bundle of snakes all gathered to blow noise and emissions out the rear.

I hesitantly ask, "Can I sit in it?" Thinking this is where Doug asks me my credit score and for $10,000 up front, I'm expecting a "No, sir, you're clearly not qualified to own this racer." Instead, Doug says "Sure." I'm standing on the typical left-hand side, but Doug walks over to the right. "Oh shit, it's set up in actual original race format, with right-hand drive and a right-hand shifter. So. Cool." I'm thinking to myself.

Getting in the GT requires some instruction, which Doug is more than happy to train on. Remove the steering wheel with two quick disconnects, then you stick your left foot in the door and actually step on the seat following it in with the right foot. Using strategically placed hands on the roof and overly wide aluminum doorsill, you hold yourself up and drop your feet in the footwell, then plop your butt down into the grommetted leather goodness. You're in. And it's spectacular.

I've been fortunate enough to drive and own some fantastic automobiles in my life, but sitting in the GT40 is a goose bump-inducing experience. It fits a like a glove, not like OJ's glove, but like Michael Jackson's white sequined glove. I'm 6'1, 240 pounds and it would seem the car was built around me. When the door comes down I have next to zero headroom, but hey, the Gurney bubble is an easily added option. The right hand shifter feels perfectly placed and the throws are mechanical and short. The pedals are tightly placed, but this is a racecar, not a C7 Corvette made for Hush-Puppy wearing road trips. The GT40 does have A/C and even a 12 volt outlet, albeit no room for golf clubs or substantial luggage.

The Superformance GT40 is a pricey little bugger, I'll say that. But now that I've gotten one foot in the door and my ass in the seat, I can say it has firmly moved into the top position on my bucket list. I see on the Hillbank website they have one in the Gulf color scheme... I better start saving.

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GT40 SEMA Superformance